When Broken’s Beautiful: Recycling Glass to Make Functional Art Pieces

Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Giroux Glass’ Fresno branch did exactly this when building a new conference room table from a defective piece of glass we removed at a recent project of ours.

On the 5th floor of the new Madera County Courthouse in the “high roof” area (the topmost section of glass), a roughly 650 lb. tempered glass lite shattered three months after it was installed. The glass spontaneously burst from a combination of nickel sulfide inclusions in the glass and temperature changes once in its final, installed position.

The shattering called for immediate removal and repair by a team of six of our Union glaziers, with the use of a 70-foot crane and a 125-foot boom lift. Luckily, Giroux Glass specializes in tackling unique and challenging projects. The surrounding streets had to be closed and the repair had to be performed on a Saturday instead of one of our regularly scheduled weekdays. Besides being over 600 lbs., the glass reached dimensions of 48″ x 104″, making it a little more challenging to maneuver, as you can see from these photos.

Despite this glass breakage, our team got creative and found an opportunity to make broken beautiful again. After removing and replacing the damaged glass, we were left with hundreds of pounds of high-quality glass that couldn’t be cut or reused as a window, its original intent. We brainstormed possible ways of reusing it before coming up with a fun idea—to use it as our “new” Fresno conference room table! The runs and cracks became an intentional style for our table—plus it told a story and served as a reminder of an important project to us.

We immediately went to work. We first added a metal trim to the edges (thanks to Fresno’s Melton Sheet Metal for fabricating the trim), and then began separating the unit. We cut apart the 3/4″ laminated glass section from the air spacer, then the 3/8” thick exterior lite and reattached them using silicone around the edges. Once that dried, we moved the glass to its new home in our conference room. We had a stainless steel “U” channel with mitered corners made, glued that on with silicone, and ta-da! Our finished new table: